The following was submitted to MAGS by Barbara S. Parker in 2003
Madison, New Jersey and Vicinity
From The Account Ledgers of Caleb C. & Edwin P. Burroughs
Prepared by Barbara S. Parker
Note: Original Account Ledgers are located at the Madison Historical Society, Madison, NJ. These ledgers can be accessed by calling 973-377-0722, ext. 8 to make an appointment. [Added by MAGS 6/20/2013]
In the early 1820s Caleb C. Burroughs moved to Bottle Hill, now Madison, NJ, where he opened a furniture making business that remained in the family for over 150 years. He was succeeded by his son, Edwin, and then by Edwin's son, Preston. In the early years the local furniture maker also made coffins. Gradually the scope of the services offered, such as preparing the body, transporting the coffin, digging the grave, etc., caused them to advertise as undertakers. The ledger books of this business indicate that sometimes they traveled to NY to obtain a special coffin and provided shrouds and lining for coffins. They transported bodies throughout the northern part of NJ, and picked up and/or delivered bodies to the railroad depot, when death had occurred at a distance from Madison or interment was a distance away.
Preston Burroughs passed the business to his daughter, Margaret, wife of Robert Kohr, and the business became known as Burroughs & Kohr Funeral Home. In about 1980 the Kohrs sold the funeral home, and the name was changed to Burroughs, Kohr & Dangler.
When the new owners took over the funeral home, they elected to get rid of the old ledgers. At that time Viola Shaw and I were in the process of creating our book, "Madison, NJ Presbyterian Church Vital Records, 1747-1900," published in 1983. We examined the Burroughs' records: (1) to verify dates, (2) to determine "unknowns" in unmarked graves, (3) to clarify data copied by others from now-missing stones, and (4) to clarify data from stones that are broken, or now illegible. We wrote the data on 3x5 papers; those, which were pertinent to the book, were printed therein. Vi, as Church historian, had no interest in those from other churches . I retained these papers because my historical interests were wider and I felt that Catholics, Methodists and others might one day want the information on their own members. We had expended a great deal of time examining the old ledger books and had planned to visit one specific day to verify some information. We arrived to discover that the ledger books and other old papers had been thrown into the back of a truck and were about to be taken to the dump. A bit younger than Vi, I climbed into the truck and pulled out the ledgers, which she placed in the trunk of her car.
Sometime after we had initially examined the oldest ledger book, we learned that it had been removed from the Museum of Early Crafts and Trades in Madison, where it had been on loan by the Kohrs. We were told that this volume had been taken home by one of the new owners, an O'Donnell, who is believed to have owned a Ford dealership in Morristown. I believe this is the same O'Donnell who now (2003) resides on Woodcliff Drive in Madison.
We took the remaining ledgers to Morristown Library, to be microfilmed. I don't know where the actual ledgers are being kept now. The volumes that strictly pertain to funerals (from the mid 1870s on) were retained in the offices of the funeral home.
The earliest records were strictly account ledgers for the furniture and coffins made. Burroughs' primary interest was keeping track of debts and credits. The person who died was rarely named, nor was the relationship to the person who paid the bill. The record often said, for example, "coffin for child" with no indication if it was the child of the person paying the bill, a grandchild, or even a child of a servant. It was not until the 1870s that the furniture ledgers were kept totally separate from the funerals; the new owners retained the "strictly funeral" ledgers. Herein are mortality records from the general ledgers. It is hoped that this will serve as an index to the microfilms.
During the period from the 1820s to 1870s the name of the village changed from Bottle Hill to Madison. It was located in the "political district" of Chatham Township. The deceased were mainly from the current towns of Madison, Chatham, Chatham Twp., Green Village, Florham Park, Convent Station, and to lesser degrees from Morris Township, New Vernon, Hanover and the extreme western portions of Union and Essex Counties, near the Chatham border.
When "cemetery" was described as the place of interment, it appears to have referred to the Catholic cemetery, on Ridgedale Ave. until the mid 1860s; those bodies have since been removed to the "new" Catholic Cemetery on Noe Ave. Hancock Cemetery in Florham Park was called "East Madison" or "Columbia" in the records. When "graveyard" is specified, it appears that this indicates the Presbyterian burying ground that lies between King Rd. and Main St., now called Hillside Cemetery.
It is my understanding that this will be placed on the Morris County Genealogical Web Site [Morris Area Genealogy Society] for universal access. A hard copy has also been provided for Morristown Library. It is my expectation that this will serve as an index to the ledgers/microfilm, especially in instances of questioned spellings, multiple dates, etc. Some of the handwriting in the ledgers could not be deciphered with certainty. Some of the notes have faded or smudged with time. Some records were recorded in 2 or more places, sometimes giving slightly different information. I suggest checking all volumes covering the dates given herein.
The microfilm of the Burroughs and Kohr records is in the collection of the Local History and Genealogy Department of the Morristown-Morris Township Library. MFGE 0046 Burroughs and Kohr Cabinet Makers and Funeral Home, Madison, New Jersey, Records 1830-1904.
© Morris Area Genealogy Society